Discrimen: Latin for an instant of perilous and excruciating tension
In addition to ‘crisis point,’ ‘discrimen’ had a further meaning: ‘dividing line.’ This was, in every sense, what the Rubicon would prove to be. By crossing it, Caesar did indeed engulf the world in war, but he also helped to bring about the ruin of Rome’s ancient freedoms, and the establishment, upon their wreckage, of a monarchy — events of primal significance for the history of the West. Long after the Roman Empire itself had collapsed, the opposites delineated by the Rubicon — liberty and despotism, anarchy and order, republic and autocracy — would continue to haunt the imaginings of Rome’s successors. Narrow and obscure the stream may have been, so insignificant that its very location was ultimately forgotten, yet its name is remembered still. No wonder. So fateful was Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon that it has come to stand for every fateful step taken since.
–excerpted from Rubicon by Tom Holland
Finding something off the beaten path can sort of make you feel like a conqueror.
While planning our trip through Tuscany, Nick discovered we would be nearish to the point historians believe was the site of Julius Caesar’s infamous Rubicon crossing in 49 BC. The idea of finding and visiting this place did not capture my imagination like it did Nick’s (even though I’m the one who studied Latin for four years in high school and college, and I enjoy generally history much more than he does). It was Nick’s idea and so he took charge of the planning by consulting several sources regarding the agreed spot.
On our way from Florence to Rimini, we plugged the coordinates into the GPS and relied on Jill (the GPS lady) to take us there. There’s no marker or sign, just a farm house on one side of the road and a McDonald’s on the other side. Nick got to explore the area a little and took some pictures, then we hit the McDrive-thru.
For Nick it was a fulfilling experience, but not on the same scale as Caesar’s satisfaction.